In an ageing Czech society, the age of retirement has become an important issue in the debates over how to reform the pension system. In this article, which deals with the transition to retirement, the central questions posed are what perspective Czechs have on the timing of their retirement, and whether they are beginning to prepare themselves for the eventuality that they will have to retire much later than has thus far been the case. Using the results from various Czech representative surveys, the paper uncovers the paradox of early retirement. This consists of contradictory links. The Czechs know that their society is ageing, that they are living longer and that the number of pensioners is increasing. They know also that after retirement their level of income (pension) will decrease substantially, having a serious impact on their standard of living. Yet despite these facts, middle-aged and elderly Czechs (45 years and older) not only are opposed to any increase in the statutory retirement age, but more frequently they even indicate a preference for early retirement. Interestingly, research conducted among the elderly has shown that many of those who are already retired today admit that they did not really want to retire. This article tries to find an explanation for this paradox in the mentality that exists with regard to retirement, which was formed by the peculiarities of the socialist labour market, and/or in the psychology of the life course.